News & Brews May 25, 2022

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PA lawmakers react to Texas shooting

Following the tragic shooting in Texas yesterday that left at least 19 children and two adults dead, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators reacted. Senator Bob Casey tweeted, “…These victims need more than thoughts and prayers. They need action. We need commonsense gun legislation. Now.” Sen. Pat Toomey released a statement, noting in part, “This tragedy is as horrifying as it is heartbreaking. My deepest condolences are with the families & loved ones of those killed, with those who were injured, & with the entire state of Texas.” On the state level, state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti called for more gun control legislation, and the head of the state’s largest teachers’ union urged more mental health services for students.

The mail-in ballot drama continues

Here’s the latest as of my readings this morning: Yesterday, U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick asked the state Supreme Court to intervene and order counties to count undated mail-in ballots statewide, in accordance with last week’s Third Circuit ruling (which applied specifically to ballots in a 2021 judicial race in Lehigh County). The state Supreme Court gave counties until tomorrow at 4pm to respond. Meanwhile, the PA Department of State issued guidance to counties, telling them to count undated mail-in ballots but keep those ballots separate pending litigation. Speaking of litigation, the defendants in the Third Circuit case mentioned above plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. And amid all this, as of yesterday afternoon, just 987 votes separated McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz (out of more than 1.34 million ballots), meaning the margin is close enough to trigger an automatic recount. Read the story here.

Who’s in, who’s out: Behind the scenes in the Legislature post-primary

The AP reports that after months of being blocked from attending closed-door Republican caucus meetings, Sen. Doug Mastriano was allowed back in following requests from other members. Meanwhile two Republican House lawmakers—Reps. Mike Jones (York County) and Dave Zimmerman (Lancaster County)—were stripped of committee assignments after they supported primary challengers to incumbent lawmakers. Read more here.

Dems hope to ‘wake up disaffected voters’ in race against Mastriano

The Philadelphia Inquirer says that as the November elections are expected to be “nightmarish for Democrats,” the Left is hoping to defy predictions and motivate voters in PA by “fram[ing] the midterm election in existential terms” and painting Republican nominee Doug Mastriano as an extremist. One union organizer noted, “People are under a ton of pressure and don’t feel great about the state of our lives. Not voting can be a very natural thing to do. That’s where we think we really need to focus.” The Inky has more.

Senate committee advances Fairness in Women’s Sports Act

Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee passed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act on a 7-4 party-line vote. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Rep. Barb Gleim (Cumberland County), would ensure women are not forced to compete against biological males on school sports teams. The House passed the bill in April, and it now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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